The potential future contribution of shipping to acidification of the Baltic Sea

International regulation of the emission of acidic sulphur and nitrogen oxides from commercial shipping has focused on the risks to human health, with little attention paid to the consequences for the marine environment. The introduction of stricter regulations in northern Europe has led to substantial investment in scrubbers that absorb the sulphur oxides in a counterflow of seawater. This paper examines the consequences of smokestack and scrubber release of acidic oxides in the Baltic Sea according to a range of scenarios for the coming decades. While shipping is projected to become a major source of strong acid deposition to the Baltic Sea by 2050, the long-term effect on the pH and alkalinity is projected to be significantly smaller than estimated from previous scoping studies. A significant contribution to this difference is the efficient export of surface water acidification to the North Sea on a timescale of 15–20 years.

Turner D. R., Edman M., Gallego-Urrea J. A., Claremar B., Hassellöv I.-M., Omstedt A. & Rutgersson A., in press. The potential future contribution of shipping to acidification of the Baltic Sea. Ambio. Article.

 

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